Archive for Gift ideas

Take this question out back

According to Richard Lederer (Anguished English, 1989, p. 29), a lawyer in a courtroom once asked this question:

When he went, had you gone, and had she, if she wanted to and were able, for the time being excluding all the restraints on her not to go also, would he have brought you, meaning you and she, with him to the station?

And at that point the opposing attorney, a Mr. Brooks, rose to say:

Objection: That question should be taken out and shot.

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Scoops

Unlike Arnold, I was happy to see Chris's "Scooping Language Log" post.  In the first place, it's a compliment that he thinks LL is some sort of standard to measure himself against, if only in temporal terms. And in the second place, it's a Good Thing for All of Us to have more people competing to note, link, and comment on language-related topics.  So scoop away, say I.

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Jingle bells, pedophile

Top story of the morning in the UK for the serious language scientist must surely be the report in The Sun concerning a children's toy mouse that is supposed to sing "Jingle bells, jingle bells" but instead sings "Pedophile, pedophile". Said one appalled mother who squeezed the mouse, "Luckily my children are too young to understand." The distributors, a company called Humatt, of Ferndown in Dorset, claims that the man in China who recorded the voice for the toy "could not pronounce certain sounds." And the singing that he recorded "was then speeded up to make it higher-pitched — distorting the result further." (A good MP3 of the result can be found here.) They have recalled the toy.

Shocked listeners to BBC Radio 4 this morning heard the presenters read this story out while collapsing with laughter. Language Log is not amused. If there was ever a more serious confluence of issues in speech technology, the Chinese language, freedom of speech, taboo language, and the protection of children, I don't know when.

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NLTK Book on Sale Now

The NLTK book, Natural Language Processing with Python, went on sale yesterday:

Cover of Natural Language Processing with Python

"This book is here to help you get your job done." I love that line (from the preface). It captures the spirit of the book. Right from the start, readers/users get to do advanced things with large corpora, including information-rich visualizations and sophisticated theory implementation. If you've started to see that your research would benefit from some computational power, but you have limited (or no) programming experience, don't despair — install NLTK and its data sets (it's a snap), then work through this book.

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Actually, the skull thing would work better for me

From NoGoodForMe, "your ultimate fashion mixtape":

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Give the gift of The Linguists

Just in time for the holiday season: The Linguists educational DVD! According to the announcement on the LINGUIST List, it "includes 30 minutes of DVD extras profiling endangered languages around the world and efforts to archive and revive them; and a discussion guide created by Dr. K. David Harrison and the Center for Applied Linguistics."

The catch, of course, is that this DVD was produced for educational purposes, which somehow makes the price a whopping $300. But c'mon, you know you want one.

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